Lee County School District limiting elementary school options

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Starting Monday, you have the chance to learn about The School District of Lee County’s plan to keep your child learning closer to home. As of August 2022, elementary school students will no longer be able to go to any school they want.

The District says the biggest differences will be noticed down the Fort Myers-McGregor corridor because the area has the highest density of schools and students.

There is an interactive draft map on the district website. You can enter your address, and it will show you where you stand.

The positives of this change:

  • Fewer schools you have to pick between
  • Shorter bus routes
  • Your child will be attending a school not far from home

“So what the proximity is going to do is it’s going to narrow down the number of options the parents have to choose when they’re looking at elementary schools in open enrollment,” said Rob Spicker with Lee County Schools. “Those choices are really going to be community-based schools. They will look at the schools that are closest to them now.”

But on the other hand, this change could impact the elementary school your child is already attending, and some parents aren’t okay with that.

“I think that no child should be taken out of school for that reason — like, that’s a huge deal for kids,” said Stephanie Ruiz, a Lee County parent. “She’s already got her friends. I already trust the school … No, that would be awful.”

Marci Strang took up the challenge of homeschooling her granddaughter during the pandemic. When it’s over, her second-grader is going back to the classroom. But now she wonders which school her granddaughter will attend.

“I don’t want my kids to be on a school bus for a length of time, so proximity to our home, quality of education, diversity, and make it fair for everyone,” Strang said.

Like other parents, Strang is worried the District’s rezoning means her granddaughter’s new school won’t be a good one, or her student could be ripped out of the school they already love.

The District says it’s working on policies, so that won’t happen.

“Ultimately, it’s community choice,” said Adam Molloy, the District coordinator for community engagement. “It’s stronger choice, and we are drastically improving some of the transportation inefficiencies that we have in our current plan.”

The District says the goal of rezoning its elementary schools to keep students closer to their communities. Parents would have less schools to choose from, and bus routes would be shorter too. The District hopes this will create more diversity in those schools.

It’s something parent Dennis Quisenberry III is looking forward too.

“I think that, the way that Fort Myers and Lee County is set up, it sometimes that stuff up for a lack of diversity,” Quisenberry said. “Not intentionally, just by the way things are, and I think these new plans tries to bump that system sam and give us diversity where it isn’t always naturally happening.”

The District said it’s working out how to grandfather students into its current schools. As of right now, the plan is still a draft, and there will be four public meetings to solicit feedback on it:

  • Monday, January 11 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
    • Dunbar High School
      3800 Edison Ave., Fort Myers, FL 33916
  • Tuesday, January 12 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
    • Cape Coral High School
      2300 Santa Barbara Blvd., Cape Coral, FL 33991
  • Wednesday, January 13 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
    • Three Oaks Middle School
      18500 Three Oaks Parkway, Fort Myers, FL 33967
  • Thursday, January 14 from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
    • Varsity Lakes Middle School
      801 Gunnery Rd. North, Lehigh Acres, FL 33971

A final decision is expected to be made by July 2021.

Parents can email their questions and concerns to ProximityPlan@LeeSchools.net.

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